Monday, October 6, 2014

Meeting and Filming Meher Baba

by Louis van Gasteren

Louis van Gasteren in Amsterdam today
Wife and daughter 1964, in the film
"Being a filmmaker of features and documentaries since 1952, in the 60s I had begun the making of a film entitled NEMA AVIONA ZA ZAGREB (THERE IS NO PLANE TO ZAGREB). The subject of this film was partly autobiographical but it dealt as well with all sorts of associations, brainwaves and memories, my thoughts on filmmaking as such, the illusions with which we have to deal, the interpretation of events which occur to us. On my search for what I saw as the essence of human existence, I got in touch with many interesting individuals including the promoter of LSD, Timothy Leary, who thought that God could be found in a pill. Such a notion did not, however, prevent a young poet from jumping out of a window while under the influence of LSD. He died and his parents initiated a lawsuit against Leary, holding him responsible.
Timothy Leary from the film

"While working on this film in the United States, I met in short order three people who mentioned Meher Baba to me: Robert Dreyfuss, Rick Chapman and Irwin Luck. I met Robert in the academic and friendly circles of Harvard. He visited me in Amsterdam and showed me a photograph of Baba, which made a deep impression on my wife and me. With Rick I made a life- deciding walk along the beach and a visit to his house. Irwin Luck drove me in the pressure cooker of New York as a cab driver to the airport on my way back to Amsterdam. On my question: “How are you today, Mr. Luck?”, he answered: “Well, sir, since I have been in India and had the opportunity to meet Meher Baba for just 30 seconds, I can manage for the coming 3 years.” That struck me. It was then that I developed the idea of going to India to ask Meher Baba: “Is God in a pill?”

Van Gasteren in the film, 1967
"I wanted to confront in my film the contrasting ideas of Timothy Leary, a man who was being held responsible for the death of a young poet, and those of Meher Baba, of whom I had heard the beautiful saying: “I love you more than you can ever love yourself.” I wanted to universalize the grief of the parents and give some counterweight to Leary by presenting a man who really knew what life is all about. With the help of Robert Dreyfuss and Rick Chapman, I got in touch with Baba, asking Him if He could see me, which He finally agreed."

— Louis van Gasteren
© 2008, Spectrum Film, Amsterdam
Meher Baba at Meherazad, as filmed by Gasteren's crew for Nema Aviona Za Zagreb

Nema Aviona Za Zagreb, completed and premiered in Amsterdam in 2012, will premiere at the Avatar Meher Baba Circle of Friends in Myrtle Beach on Oct. 19, 2013. This is not the film released in 1997 and available in stores called Beyond Words, that has footage of Meher Baba. This is the actual feature film for which those shots were done in 1967, and they are placed in their context. It has recently been  completed and played in Europe at the Netherlands Film Festival. The film is not available in stores or online. Screening is free and will be on a large LCD screen. 82 minutes. More information will be given closer to the event.

Full article:
Meeting and Filming Meher Baba, an article by Louis van Gastern

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